SPARS Soundbites


Karen Brinton and president/chief engineer David Hewitt

Eds. Note: Karen Brinton, owner/manager of Remote Recording, gives us a step-by-step tour diary of a day in life of her remote recording crew.

4:30 a.m.: The alarm goes off. No time to hit the Snooze button as I have to be on my way to the airport at 5:30 a.m. Have to put on a little makeup so I don't scare my crew at the airport. Wish I would have had more sleep, but was at a gig until 1 a.m. the night before — no rest for the wicked! It's time to hit the road again.

6 a.m.: check in at the airport and meet up with my guys. We're all groggy, but in good spirits. We board the plane, take our drug of choice and proceed to have a nice nap during the flight. Once we land, we have to hit the ground running.

Remote Recording's Remote Truck will have been traveling days before the gig, sometimes traversing more than 3,000 miles.

Once the truck and crew arrive on site, everyone's focused, handling their respective duties. I do truly marvel at the talent and concentration with which my guys work. We're sometimes in a venue where no one has worked at before or “creating a venue” in a place that does not have electricity. There's limited time to get things up and running so everyone has to be onboard and figuring out solutions to the various challenges that crop up.

First things first — parking, power and where's the coffee! Seriously, sometimes just finding a place to park the truck can be time-consuming. We need to negotiate with the show and venue personnel so we are not jeopardizing their load out, local fire regulations, etc.

Then we deal with the local stage hands for cable runs, audience mic placements, etc.

All of these people will have been contacted in advance, but it's amazing how the guy who said, “Yeah, no problem!” on the phone is off fishing the day of show. Note: Always try to get your agreements in writing.

After negotiating with the touring or house sound reinforcement heads, we will establish the mic split and add whatever changes may be necessary for the recording. This has to be done with care, making sure that the front-of-house and monitor mixers and are okay with the changes and have time to deal with them during soundcheck. Hopefully, we will get a soundcheck; sometimes you only get a line check. Oh well, we always estimate the gain trims before starting anyway.

Then, of course, there is the video interface, and these days there is always video. Even if there is no video truck or immediate need for a video product, there is often tour video support cameras and recording. It's always best to take a feed from them and share time code in case it is needed later.

5 p.m.: Made it through soundcheck. Most of the production crew is taking a dinner break, but most of my guys are fine-tuning the smallest of details, making sure everything is perfect. I schlep plates of food to them on the truck. In my spare time, I run around schmoozing producers and directors. We often have guest engineers on the truck, and I enjoy working with all of them.

8 p.m.: Showtime! We're off and running. There's no turning back; no second take. My crew is like a well-choreographed dance troupe waltzing through the set. After the last encore, it's time to break everything down, pack it up and get ready for the next gig.

2 a.m.: The truck is packed and everyone's headed back to the hotel, where the bar has just closed and there is no room service. Up early again tomorrow to head back home. I'm tired, but happy. It's not glamorous, but I wouldn't trade what I do for anything!

Karen Brinton is the owner/manager of Remote Recording.